Booster Effectiveness Wanes After 4 Months, But Showed Sturdy Protection Against Hospitalization, CDC Study Shows

According to a study published on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines’ booster shots lose major effectiveness after nearly 4 months but still gave remarkable protection in protecting people during the omicron surge.

Researchers discovered the booster shots stayed highly effective in protecting from moderate and severe Covid infection for nearly 2 months following a third dose. But the study claimed that their effectiveness dropped majorly after four months, hence recommending the requirement for additional boosters.

According to the study, the vaccine provided 91% effectiveness to prevent a vaccinated individual from being hospitalized during the 2 months following a booster shot and after 4 months, protection dropped to 78%.

Is the Third Dose Able to Provide Sustainable Protection Against Viruses?

An earlier CDC study found that protection from the two-dose vaccine pattern has dropped since omicron turned dominant, but a third dose boosted the immunity to avoid moderate and severe infection.

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But how long even a third dose remains effective is a critical question experienced by public health officials as many people got their third shot months ago. According to Friday’s report, the first real-world data in the U.S represents the sustainability of that protection during delta and omicron.

At a White House Covid-19 briefing Wednesday, Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser on the pandemic response, stated that officials will consider booster decisions on real-world “efficacy in preventing, for example, hospital visits, as well as hospitalizations.”

He said “I think you should be appreciative of the fact that when you’re talking about any decisions that will be made — and I’m not anticipating any of that now — but that has to be put into the context of whom you’re talking about,” adding “There may be the need for yet again another boost — in this case, a fourth-dose boost for an individual receiving the mRNA — that could be based on age, as well as underlying conditions.”

but showed sturdy protection against hospitalization
but showed sturdy protection against hospitalization

The study said fading protection following a third vaccine shot “reinforces the importance of further consideration of additional doses to sustain or improve protection against COVID-19-associated” visits to emergency departments and emergency care and hospitalizations.

CDC said in a statement that boosters are “safe and effective” and the study represents that the third shot of mRNA vaccine “continues to offer high levels of protection against severe disease, even months after administration, underscoring the importance of staying up to date when eligible after receiving a primary series.”

Is It Necessary to Receive Booster Shots of Vaccines?

Nearly 91 million U.S. citizens have gotten booster shots according to CDC data. But a maximum number of people qualified for boosters have not gotten them still as per the study, including over one-third of the most vulnerable people age 65 and above who have gotten fully vaccinated but didn’t receive a booster.

The CDC study reviewed hospitalizations and emergency room and urgent care center visits among ten states, from August to January 22, 2022, covering periods when delta and omicron were at a peak. In the study, nearly 10% of people were boosted and nearly 50% of people hospitalized were above age 65.

But the report didn’t examine the variations in fading immunity by age, persisting health conditions, or a person’s immunocompromised status.

According to experts, the findings were not surprising as studies have already represented vaccine effectiveness drops after 2 shots.

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Though the data recommend that more boosters may be required, the findings underscore the added advantage of a booster in comparison to two shots. Albert Ko, an infectious-diseases physician, and epidemiologist at Yale’s School of Public Health said they also represent that vaccines developed against the ancestral virus strains are still able to give protection against new variants.

He said “Each time we are boosting with these vaccines, our immune responses may be getting broader and not narrower in protecting against the scope of variants we are encountering,” adding protection against the range of variants 2 years into the pandemic is “pretty amazing, whether you’re getting the primary series or that boost.”

Getting Boosted Will Prepare People for Better

Ko said, even after 4 months, the 78% effectiveness in avoiding hospitalizations is “a silver lining,” adding “It’s another argument that getting boosted now will prepare you better when you need to get boosted again in the face of new variants.”

Whilst a booster’s protection fades more as the time passes in avoiding visits to urgent care or emergency departments, Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious-diseases physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, also said the resilient protection against hospitalization, even after 4 months.

She said that the study does not give the level of detail to know if people were going to urgent care clinics for “a little sniffle,” adding “That’s not the same thing as coming into the ICU and needing to be intubated.”

In an email, Marrazzo wrote “I honestly think we were unrealistic early on in conveying the idea that vaccine efficacy should be primarily characterized by protecting from infection,” adding “As variants evolve and get better at infecting us, what we’ll need to focus on is mitigating the consequences.”

On Friday, in a second study report, CDC evaluated data from two of its vaccine safety reviewing systems. It discovered that those 18 and above who got the same mRNA vaccine for all their doses had rare side effects following the booster as compared after their second shot of vaccines.

In a safety database called VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), which has information on unverified reports that can be submitted by anyone, 92% of the reports were not taken seriously, with headache, fever, and muscle pain amongst the most commonly reported symptoms.

According to a study report, in a second safety system called v-safe, which enables individuals to have personalized and confidential health check-ins through text messages and Web surveys, people barely got medical care following the booster.

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